Posts Tagged games for people with dementia

Play Chinese Checkers

chinee checkers

Chinese Checkers is another one of those games that is great for people with memory loss because it’s likely to be familiar and the rules preserved in long term memory. If, however, you need a refresher, there is a great tutorial (with pictures!) here.

It may be easier for someone with memory loss to use a simplified board such as the one below
This two man board can be purchased online here.

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Draw with a Spinning Top


These fun tops work just like any other top toy, but with a fun extra-they draw as they spin! Just lay down a sufficiently large piece of paper and watch the top trace its path as it’s spins! It’s fun to experiment with spinning it faster or slower to see how the design changes, which might help keep someone with a short attention span engaged longer than if it was just a normal top toy. You can also use the resulting art as part of another activity-maybe making cards or a mobile.

Spinning tops can be bought online or at your local toy store.

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Play Old Maid

old maid

While I don’t necessarily like the name of the game, I do have to admit that it is fun to play. It’s rules and objective are very similar to Go Fish, but with a twist. Like in Go Fish, players want to make pairs which are discarded from their hand. The last players to get rid of all of the cards in their hand, loses. The difference is that in Old Maid, there is one card without a match-the old maid. The players who ends up with this card at the end of the game, loses. Old Maid can be played with a speciality card deck, such as the one in the picture above, or with a regular card deck with all but one of the Queens removed or with a Joker added. Also, unlike Go Fish, in which players are generally dealt 7 cards and then draw from a deck, in Old Maid all the cards are dealt to the players and they take turns drawing from each other’s hands. Because of this, the game is best played with 3 or more players, otherwise, every draw is guaranteed to be a match to something in your hand!

For those in the more moderate stages of the disease, having a lot of cards to have to scan may be challenging, so playing as “teams” may be less stressful. Or, try playing with half of a deck to simplify the process. Of course, if you have a speciality deck, they might enjoy just looking at the funny pictures.

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Go to a Baseball Game


The weather is warming up and the days are getting longer. That can mean only one thing-baseball season is really heating up! So why not take the person with dementia to a baseball game! Any fan knows that watching a game in person is even more fun that watching it on TV, and even non-fans might catch the excitement in the stadium. If they done, well, then they can always enjoy the food, the people watching, or if you’re lucky enough to be in a newer stadium like our Detroit Tigers, the other things to do like the carousel or the fireworks! A baseball game is a great options for people with memory loss in the later stages because unlike a movie or a concert, no one cares if you talk, get up and move around, or even if you fall asleep! If the person with memory loss is unsteady on his/her feet, be sure to get handicapped seating so you don’t have to climb the stair in the bleachers, which often don’t have railings. Many stadiums also have benches rather than seats with backs, so you might want to check on that before you order tickets. You might also want to consider bringing a seat cushion as those hard seats can be uncomfortable to sit on, and the person with memory loss may not be able to ignore or work through feelings of discomfort as well as someone with normal cognition.

All those caveats aside, attending a baseball game really is a fun way to spend and afternoon! Just ask this lucky lady who caught a home run ball!

Last but not least, going to a baseball game is a great way to start reminiscing. You can ask about games they may have attending in the past, old favorite players, if they played baseball as a kid or if they coached their child’s team, etc.

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Play Super Slam Basketball

super slam

Another fun game for the man with dementia in your life (or the lady, if she’s into sports or just has a competitive spirit) is Super Slam Basketball. In this tabletop game players use a spring loaded flipper to launch balls into the net. The electronic scoring device and timer keeps track of your points and counts down your time- nothing for the person with memory loss to have to remember except to shoot! Of course, it’s fun to challenge a fun, but it’s also fun to play by yourself! Again, the simple objective-score points-and ease of playing-just hitting the flipper-are both perfect for a person with memory loss who may be easily frustrated or overwhelmed by more complex tasks. You can buy this or similar games at toy stores or online.

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Play Knok Hockey

Nok Hockey

Knock or “Nok” Hockey is a fun table top hockey that is similar to air hockey, but doesn’t require a trip to the arcade! The rules are fairly simple, and can be found at the official website of Knock Hockey at Simply put, however, the goal is to score more points that your opponent. You get and your opponent take turns hitting the puck (unlike in air hockey which is more of a free for all) and the first person to a certain number of goals, wins! This game is great because of its simple objective-few rules to remember makes it easier for the person with memory loss. It’s even fun to practice your skills without an opponent, so it’s something the person with memory loss may be able to do on their own after a few demonstrations provided by you. Of course, those in the later stages will need someone to help keep them focuses and maybe even to help guide their hand, but that doesn’t’ mean that they won’t enjoy playing. Obviously, this is also a great activity for men and/or hockey fans!

For those of you who are feeling very adventurous and/or just like to build things, you can make your own Knok Hockey table! Visit this website for instructions! Otherwise, you can buy a table online or in some large-box stores or toy stores.

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Play Qwirkle


Qwirkle is a game that is played like dominoes, only instead of matching numbers of dots, you match the color and or shape. People in early and middle stages of memory loss should be able to play the game by its rules, especially if they’re familiar with the rules of dominoes. Those in the later stages may enjoy playing on a “team” with someone asking them to find a specific color or shape in their team’s “hand” rather than having to find an open tile on the board, remember the rules, and find an appropriate tile in their “hand.” People in the late stages may also enjoy just making patterns with the tiles or sorting them by shape or color.

You can buy qwirkle online or in many toy stores.

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Play the Ungame


While there is a version specifically for seniors, there also Christian versions, Catholic versions, family versions, etc. Whatever version you play, the Ungame is less about competition and more about learning more about yourself and your fellow players. The non-competitive atmosphere is nice for those with memory loss, as they don’t have to worry about answering correctly or forgetting some key rule that will be embarrassing when they violate it. Instead, players take turns rolling the dice and asking and answering questions based on the spaces they land on and the corresponding cards, if applicable. There are no right or wrong answers, and it’s a great way to get to know about the loved one with dementia by starting conversations that might not otherwise come up.

The Ungame can be purchased at its official website or on

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Play Rack-O


Rack-O first debuted in 1956, but I just bought it at an estate sale and let me tell you, it’s stood the test of time well. The rules, modified from, are below:

1. Remove cards from the deck according to the number of players you have. If the game includes three players, remove cards with numbers 51 to 60. For two players, remove cards with numbers 41 to 60. Do not remove any cards for a four-player game.
2. Place the card tray in the center of the table with the pile of cards in the draw pile. The other side of the tray will hold discards. Give each player a RACKO rack.
3. Deal each player cards one at a time, face down, until each player has 10 cards. Return the remainder of the cards face down to the draw section of the tray. Turn over the top card and place it face up in the discard pile.
4. Stack your cards into the rack one at a time as they are dealt, starting at the rear slot–labeled 50–and moving forward until all slots are full.
5. Start game play with the player on the dealer’s left. That player can take either the top card on the discard pile or the top card on the draw pile.
6. Replace a card in the rack with a newly drawn card, with a goal of getting all of your cards in the rack in order from lowest to highest, moving front to back. If you take a card from the discard pile, you must play it in the rack. If you take a card from the draw pile, you can immediately discard it, if you don’t want to place it in the rack.
7. Continue playing clockwise around the table until one player calls “RACKO” by getting all 10 of his cards in numerical order. This first person who calls “RACKO” is the winner or….
8. Score the round. The player who achieved RACKO earns 75 points. Each other player receives five points for each card in proper numerical order from front to back on his rack. Cards arranged in proper order after the first break in order do not count. For example, a player whose rack reads: “5, 9, 13, 24, 25, 32, 4, 35, 42, 55″ would score points only up to the point at which the “4” card breaks the proper order. Keep track of the score on a piece of paper. Play rounds until one player reaches 500 points; that player is the winner of RACKO. If two players surpass 500 points on the same round, the player with the higher score wins.

The great thing about Rack-o, besides its simple objective that is easily repeated to those with memory loss, is that since it’s heyday was a few decades back, it, and its rules, may be stuck somewhere in the dusty parts of the person’s long-term memory, meaning that it should be easier to play than learning a brand-new game. Of course, you can always modify the rules as needed to make it even easier (use fewer cards, for example) if necessary, or play in teams so someone can help the person with memory loss.

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Look at “Chatterbox” Cards


Looking for a last minute gift for someone with memory loss in your life? Look no further! These reminiscing cards by Chatterbox are a great option for those whose memories of the past are stronger than those of the present. In the companies own words, “1940s and 1950s CHATTERBOX cards create opportunities for people to enjoy each other’s company across the generations, by encouraging interaction, communication and connection, for everyone’s pleasure and benefit….The 26 card subjects in each box were researched among over 160 people between the ages of 65 and 99 years old.
They are the everyday subjects that everyone finds amusement in remembering, like holidays and home life; hairdos and handkerchiefs. They make it easy to enjoy fascinating and fun conversations about people’s life experiences from a time that holds some of their most vibrant and enduring memories.”

Even better, these cards even include background information and a few conversation starters on the back. They’re sold only in the U.K., but thanks to the internet you can have them shipped right to your door! Just visit their website at .

Even if the person with memory loss doesn’t speak much, that doesn’t mean they won’t enjoy looking at items from the past. In fact, don’t be surprised if these familiar items and topics prompt a few comments more than interactions with the here and now!

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